The red wine grapevine cultivar Mencía is grown over much of northern and northwestern Spain. It is the preferential cultivar for the wines of the Appellation Contrôlée regions of « Bierzo », « Monterrei », «Ribeira Sacra » and «Valdeorras », and an « authorized » cultivar for « Rías Baixas » and « Ribeiro » wines. This cultivar does not seem to have existed in the north of Spain until the end of the 19th century (after the arrival of phylloxera), but from this time on it has been one of the most important of all those cultivated. The interest surrounding its true identity has increased over the years as its market value has increased. Some parties defend it as a native of the area while others believe it to be a synonym of Cabernet Franc or Tintilla. It is also similar to cv. Garnacha, as some authors have mentioned over the years (although with no great emphasis) (GARCÍA DE LOS SALMONES, 1901-1911; COMENGE, 1942; GALET, 1990). The present paper reports a comparative ampelographic study of different clones of Mencía and Garnacha. The results are also compared to those published by other authors. Mencía appears to be totally different to Cabernet Franc and Tintilla but shows characteristics similar to those of Garnacha and there is possibly a parental relationship. Mencía might therefore be obtained from different crosses between Garnacha and another cultivar.
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